GOSHEN — Ice covering the pond near the Goshen Moose Lodge was more than a foot thick, but that didn’t scare people away from jumping into the water for a good cause this weekend.
For the ninth year, the Leprechaun Leap raised money Saturday, March 15, for United Cancer Services of Elkhart County. The nonprofit organization provides financial help to people living and working in the county during their first year of treatment.
The St. Patrick’s Day weekend fundraiser has traditionally been held at Pete’s Simonton Lake Tavern on the north side of Elkhart, but when the owners were not able to host the event this year, United Cancer Services executive director Peter Norton had to find a new location.
“It’s a challenge to find a place where you can host a great party and still be able to do the leap,” he said. “It had to be in Elkhart County though. We raise all of our money locally and distribute all of our money locally.”
The Leprechaun Leap has raised $125,000 for the United Cancer Services over the past eight years.
Todd Donoho, leaping for the sixth time, said the organization helped his family after his daughter, Teigan, was diagnosed with cancer when she was just 4 months old. Two years ago, Donoho and his team, Teigan’s Polar Bears, raised $2,000 for the nonprofit organization.
“If my daughter can go through everything she did, this is the least I could do,” Donoho said.
Brandi Stephens, who lives in Elkhart, braved the icy cold water in memory of her father, Randall Wixson, who had cancer.
“They helped my dad,” Stephens said. “That’s why we do this. He was a veteran, and we couldn’t go to a VA hospital because they couldn’t help him. We had to go to a regular hospital, so the VA pays for nothing. His first week of medicine was $800, and he had no other insurance, and so this organization helped us.”
Around 300 people showed up Saturday to support the Leprechaun Leap. The amount raised at the event will be tallied soon.
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.